I love articles on meetings. I just calculated that last week I have been in meetings for over 12,5 hours. If I would be able to optimize my meetings by 10%, I would win back one hour of my time. That’s why I keep spending time on reading this stuff. I found a great article in Harvard Business Review on executive meetings. Sharing the most important findings here:

  • Focus on making decisions. Lots of time in meetings is wasted because people didn’t prepare and there is nothing concrete to talk about. If you have meetings with multiple talking points, try asking for a proposal instead of bringing just an issue to the table.
  • Separate operation from strategy. These two are distinct topics and should be handled in different meetings. You need a different level of energy and a different mindset as well. At least, try to batch operation and strategy topics together. Note: most executive teams spend too little attention on strategy, while this might be the most valuable thing such a team can spend their time on.
  • Measure real value for every item on the agenda. Lots of agendas for meetings are put together by having everyone add their talking points to a list. This could have the side-effect that you run out of time before everything is processed. By knowing the real value for every item, you could then sort the items based on this value. This makes sure the most valuable items are handled first.
  • Make decisions stick. “Often, the biggest challenge a top management team faces is agreeing on what it agreed to in the meeting.” You need ways to track what is decided and sign off of that. How many times have you asked yourself: what exactly did we pick? When this happens, you know for sure valuable time is lost. Larger management teams have formal procedures for this stuff. You probably can get away with notes and by reading the notes out loud just before you move on to the next item on the agenda.